Jason Puncheon's second-half goal earned Southampton a vital victory against Reading, lifting the Saints out of the bottom three and leaving the Royals second bottom and six points from safety.

Saints dominated the match and had chances throughout, but Puncheon's shot, which found the net via the far post, proved decisive.

Saints worthy winners - Adkins

Reading struggled to make any sort of impact on the game with Hal Robson-Kanu's close-range header off the post their best chance.

Jay Tabb also had an effort well saved by Saints keeper Kelvin Davis, while Maya Yoshida's flick-on from Puncheon's corner was cleared off the line by Reading defender Shaun Cummings.

This fixture last season was a pivotal game in the race for the Championship title, Reading winning that day and going on to top the table ahead of Saints.

But despite opening with four defeats, Southampton have made the better start to the Premier League campaign.

Their home form has been the basis for that success with two wins and three draws in their last six league games at St Mary's, while Reading headed into the match without an away victory this season.

Saints dominated proceedings early on with the movement of their front four causing the visitors' defence problems. Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin both went close for the hosts.

Tightening up at the back

Southampton's clean sheet was only their second of the season in the Premier League, although the other one came only two weeks ago when they beat Newcastle 2-0.

However, the Saints have still conceded the most goals in the division.

Reading keeper Adam Federici was soon called into action, comfortably saving Adam Lallana's half volley and palming away Rickie Lambert's curling effort from the edge of the area at full stretch.

At the other end, Tabb had Reading's first chance with his run and shot kept out by Davis, and the midfielder then losing his footing under pressure from Jack Cork when going for the rebound.

Saints did have the ball in the net before the break but Puncheon's header was ruled out for an earlier foul by Yoshida on Federici, although replays suggested it was a harsh decision.

The hosts then lost Lallana, who was forced off with a knee injury after an innocuous looking challenge from Tabb, although Saints did have the benefit of being able to bring on £12m forward Gaston Ramirez.

But, on the stroke of half-time, Reading almost took the lead, Robson-Kanu heading against the post from six yards out after Sean Morrison nodded the ball back across goal.

Reading missed chances - McDermott

Roared on by vociferous home support at St Mary's, Saints started the second half impressively with Puncheon's low strike from the edge of the area well saved by Federici.

Royals boss Brian McDermott looked an increasingly frustrated figure on the sidelines as his side struggled to assert themselves and Puncheon duly gave Saints the lead with a fine finish across Federici, which flew in off the post.

Jobi McAnuff then curled a shot wide of the angle for Reading, who brought on defender Alex Pearce for the injured Morrison while striker Noel Hunt replaced Tabb.

But a tame Adam Le Fondre header that bobbled wide was their only further chance of note as Nigel Adkins's side held on.

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins said:

"I thought we dominated the game and we were worthy winners. The crowd got behind the players, we played with a good tempo and it was a good 1-0 victory.

"The goal was excellent and one from the training ground where we get the full-backs forward.

"Adam [Lallana] has a knee injury. He has a brace on, as we always do in that situation, and he is on crutches but we will have to assess it in the next 24 hours."

Reading boss Brian McDermott said:

"We're obviously disappointed - we all are after a game like that. We know the league we're in; we've got to keep our heads down, dig in and get on with it.

"I feel sorry for our fans. They've come up to Southampton and we haven't got a result. We play for them and they'll be as frustrated as we are. Everyone in the dressing room is bitterly disappointed.

"When you don't win you get asked questions and I understand that. I'm as gutted as anyone today. We all do our best every single day. I know what they players are giving us, we pick ourselves up quickly ahead of Tuesday.

"We're used to winning, now we're not winning and nobody enjoys that. We'll keep going because things change."

Lineup, Bookings (0) & Substitutions (5)

Southampton

  • 01 K Davis
  • 02 Clyne
  • 03 Yoshida
  • 06 Fonte
  • 23 Shaw
  • 04 Schneiderlin
  • 18 Cork
  • 20 Lallana (Ramirez - 40' )
  • 42 Puncheon
  • 07 Lambert
  • 09 Rodriguez (Guly - 78' )

Substitutes

  • 31 Boruc
  • 05 Hooiveld
  • 08 S Davis
  • 10 Ramirez
  • 16 Ward-Prowse
  • 21 Guly
  • 24 Mayuka

Reading

  • 01 Federici
  • 03 Shorey
  • 06 Mariappa
  • 15 Morrison (Pearce - 65' )
  • 24 Cummings
  • 08 Leigertwood
  • 11 McAnuff
  • 16 Tabb (Hunt - 69' )
  • 19 Robson-Kanu (McCleary - 77' )
  • 09 Le Fondre
  • 33 Roberts

Substitutes

  • 41 Taylor
  • 05 Pearce
  • 23 Harte
  • 20 Guthrie
  • 10 Hunt
  • 12 McCleary
  • 44 Samuel
Ref: Moss
Att: 29,331

Match Stats

Shots

18 6

On target

9 2

Corners

7 4

Fouls

11 10

Live Text Commentary

93:14 Full time

Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.

90:00 +0:48

Corner taken short by Morgan Schneiderlin.

90:00 +0:07

Free kick awarded for a foul by Jason Puncheon on Nicky Shorey. Adam Federici restarts play with the free kick.

88:08

Guly Do Prado takes a shot. Adam Federici makes a save.

86:29

Free kick awarded for a foul by Jason Puncheon on Jobi McAnuff. Nicky Shorey crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, Alex Pearce concedes a free kick for a foul on Rickie Lambert. Kelvin Davis takes the direct free kick.

85:43

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Garath McCleary by Morgan Schneiderlin. Free kick crossed left-footed by Nicky Shorey from right wing, Kelvin Davis makes a save.

84:56

Guly Do Prado takes a shot from inside the box clearing the bar.

84:47

Luke Shaw produces a cross.

83:54

Shot from outside the penalty box by Jason Puncheon goes wide right of the goal.

83:07

Adrian Mariappa challenges Rickie Lambert unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Jason Puncheon, Adrian Mariappa makes a clearance.

82:44

Adam Le Fondre sends in a cross, comfortable save by Kelvin Davis.

81:57

Guly Do Prado is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Alex Pearce.

80:35

The ball is sent over by Luke Shaw, Alex Pearce manages to make a clearance.

79:18

Handball decision goes against Jobi McAnuff. Kelvin Davis takes the free kick.

77:47 Substitution

Substitution Jay Rodriguez leaves the field to be replaced by Guly Do Prado.

76:53

Unfair challenge on Jay Rodriguez by Alex Pearce results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Maya Yoshida.

76:21 Substitution

Substitution Garath McCleary comes on in place of Hal Robson-Kanu.

76:01

Nathaniel Clyne sends in a cross, save by Adam Federici.

72:23

Unfair challenge on Gaston Ramirez by Mikele Leigertwood results in a free kick. Morgan Schneiderlin delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, clearance by Alex Pearce.

70:43

The ball is swung over by Hal Robson-Kanu, Header from close range by Adam Le Fondre misses to the right of the target.

70:03

A cross is delivered by Luke Shaw, clearance by Noel Hunt.

69:12

Hal Robson-Kanu takes a shot. Kelvin Davis makes a comfortable save.

68:49

Corner taken by Nicky Shorey played to the near post, clearance made by Morgan Schneiderlin.

68:35 Substitution

Substitution Noel Hunt on for Jay Tabb.

66:58

Luke Shaw produces a cross, clearance by Mikele Leigertwood.

64:27 Substitution

Substitution Sean Morrison goes off and Alex Pearce comes on.

64:27

Effort from deep inside the area by Jobi McAnuff misses to the right of the goal.

64:17

The ball is delivered by Adam Le Fondre, clearance made by Jose Fonte.

62:03

Gaston Ramirez produces a cross, clearance made by Adrian Mariappa.

60:04

The assist for the goal came from Nathaniel Clyne.

60:04 Goal scored

Goal! - Jason Puncheon - Southamp'n 1 - 0 Reading Jason Puncheon gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Southampton 1-0 Reading.

56:30

Maya Yoshida gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jason Roberts. Free kick crossed left-footed by Nicky Shorey, Jose Fonte makes a clearance.

55:47

Jay Rodriguez has an effort at goal from just outside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.

51:55

Outswinging corner taken by Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the goal.

51:42

Jason Puncheon takes a shot. Save by Adam Federici.

50:39

Centre by Luke Shaw, clearance made by Adrian Mariappa.

49:17

Nathaniel Clyne delivers the ball, Hal Robson-Kanu manages to make a clearance.

49:01

Jason Puncheon produces a cross, clearance made by Sean Morrison.

45:45

Shaun Cummings produces a cross, Luke Shaw gets a block in. Nicky Shorey decides to take the corner short. The ball is crossed by Jobi McAnuff, Rickie Lambert manages to make a clearance.

45:01

The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.

45:00 +2:16 Half time

Half Time The match has reached half-time.

44:44

Jason Roberts sends in a cross, blocked by Luke Shaw. Nicky Shorey decides to take a short corner. Jobi McAnuff sends in a cross, Hal Robson-Kanu has a headed effort at goal from close in that strikes the post. Nicky Shorey takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post.

42:56

Rickie Lambert has an effort at goal from just outside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.

41:38

Jason Puncheon takes a shot. Nicky Shorey gets a block in. Corner from the right by-line taken by Jason Puncheon, Maya Yoshida takes a shot. Mikele Leigertwood manages to make a clearance.

40:36

Jason Roberts challenges Nathaniel Clyne unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jack Cork restarts play with the free kick.

39:44 Substitution

Substitution Gaston Ramirez replaces Adam Lallana.

35:55

Foul by Jay Rodriguez on Jay Tabb, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Sean Morrison.

34:59

Adam Lallana delivers the ball, Shaun Cummings gets a block in. Free kick awarded for a foul by Jay Rodriguez on Sean Morrison. Adam Federici takes the free kick.

32:52

Inswinging corner taken by Adam Lallana from the left by-line, Jason Puncheon challenges Shaun Cummings unfairly and gives away a free kick. Adam Federici takes the free kick.

32:19

Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Adam Lallana, Adam Federici makes a save.

32:11

A cross is delivered by Adam Lallana, Shaun Cummings gets a block in.

30:17

Free kick awarded for a foul by Adrian Mariappa on Jay Rodriguez. Free kick taken by Maya Yoshida.

29:26

Drilled left-footed shot by Adam Lallana. Sean Morrison gets a block in. The ball is sent over by Jason Puncheon.

28:36

Morgan Schneiderlin concedes a free kick for a foul on Jay Tabb. Nicky Shorey takes the direct free kick.

28:01

Jay Tabb takes a shot. Save by Kelvin Davis.

26:51

Nicky Shorey gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rickie Lambert. Direct free kick taken by Rickie Lambert.

25:43

The ball is delivered by Jason Roberts, save by Kelvin Davis.

24:32

The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Maya Yoshida.

23:51

A cross is delivered by Shaun Cummings, comfortable save by Kelvin Davis.

22:46

Free kick awarded for a foul by Jay Rodriguez on Adrian Mariappa. Adam Federici takes the direct free kick.

22:12

Effort from the edge of the box by Adam Lallana goes wide of the right-hand upright.

21:41

Adam Le Fondre is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Kelvin Davis.

21:16

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Adam Le Fondre by Jack Cork. Adrian Mariappa takes the free kick.

20:19

Shot by Rickie Lambert from 18 yards. Save by Adam Federici.

17:56

The ball is crossed by Nicky Shorey. The ball is crossed by Jason Roberts, Effort from inside the area by Jay Tabb misses to the right of the goal.

16:47

Adrian Mariappa concedes a free kick for a foul on Jay Rodriguez. Morgan Schneiderlin restarts play with the free kick.

15:40

Shot by Adam Lallana. Adam Federici makes a comfortable save.

15:15

The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Kelvin Davis.

14:53

Jobi McAnuff produces a cross, Jose Fonte manages to make a clearance.

13:08

Unfair challenge on Jason Roberts by Maya Yoshida results in a free kick. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Nicky Shorey from right wing, Jose Fonte manages to make a clearance.

12:32

Free kick awarded for a foul by Hal Robson-Kanu on Luke Shaw. Kelvin Davis restarts play with the free kick.

11:50

Jason Puncheon is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Adam Federici.

11:08

Jobi McAnuff is caught offside. Jose Fonte takes the indirect free kick.

10:00

Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Jason Puncheon, Sean Morrison makes a clearance.

7:40

Centre by Nathaniel Clyne, Shot by Morgan Schneiderlin from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal. The offside flag is raised against Jay Rodriguez. Direct free kick taken by Adam Federici.

6:18

Jay Rodriguez takes a shot from 18 yards. Blocked by Sean Morrison. Rickie Lambert produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.

5:31

Jason Puncheon delivers the ball, Nicky Shorey gets a block in.

2:00

Foul by Jason Roberts on Luke Shaw, free kick awarded. Jack Cork takes the free kick.

1:22

Luke Shaw crosses the ball, Jay Rodriguez produces a right-footed shot from close in which goes wide of the right-hand upright.

0:51

Inswinging corner taken by Jason Puncheon from the right by-line.

0:43

Rickie Lambert sends in a cross, Adrian Mariappa gets a block in.

0:00

The referee gets the game started.

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